Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stumbled Into チキンパラダイス or Chicken Paradise

Restaurant called Chicken Paradise, wooden sign, Kin Town, Okinawa

Unusually Fantastic

The wooden door creaks when you open it, to enter and, slams shut behind you.

It's a dimly lit, tiny little place, that smells like fried chicken.

No cameras were with me. It was, visit the hospital day and, I was heading back to my office.

In case anyone's wondering, I'm in great shape, just had to pick up some medicines for travel.

Blood pressure's fine and, ticker does 68 BPM (beats per minute) after walking a mile.

But, they like to give old folks, monthly doses of drugs, to help the economy, I guess.

Got my meds and was walking on the shady side of the street, when my stomach growled.

All the menu signs outside are in Japanese but, I could read the simple stuff.

Using the iPhone, I snapped some photos so, I could put it on Google Maps.

Big Guy at Counter

He was the only customer in there, I noticed as I squinted to adjust my eyes to the darkness.

Just one dude, wearing a plaid shirt, was at the left end of the counter.

His face wasn't visible. I just figured he was some big sumo dude, eating his lunch.

No sense bothering anyone so, I went over to the far right end of the L-shaped counter.

An Okinawan gal with a round, smiling face greeted me, from the tiny kitchen.

Ordering a Jumbo Chicken Katsu, I asked if, taking photos would be allowed.

She gave me the OK and, I went around the place snapping pictures.

When she didn't look busy, cooking I asked if, the place was on Google Maps.

She wasn't sure so, I told her, I'd get it done today and, shoot more photos later.

It's best for me, to go back there with a real camera and wide angle lens.

Big dude, continued eating his meal, facing the wall so, I guessed he was hungry.

Maybe, he was watching the TV, they had on turned on, near where he was sitting.

Jumbo Chicken Katsu, huge meal

Before 5 minutes had expired, this meal came across the counter and, the girl smiled.

Forgetting to take a photo, my growling tummy, made me start eating. Rats.

It wouldn't be right, to put a restaurant on the map, without a food image !

OK. A some of the chicken is missing. Gives an idea what the cooked chicken looks like.

There's salad, a  bowl of rice, soup, pickled veges, and tofu with some greens.

Hidden from view (under the chicken) some thick, fried potatoes. All scrumptious.

There was no way, I could consume all that food so, I had to ask the gal something.

"Do you do takeouts here, too?"  She said, "Yes."  And, I said, "Good."

Big Dude Speaks

This sort of surprised me. He said, "Can I get some more sauce?"

He spoke English. Still, I didn't want to bother the guy. The gal brought him some sauce.

Then, I quietly asked her (in Japanese) "Do you speak English, too?"  She, didn't.

Next thing ya know, the big plaid shirt, saunters, the 4 or 5 steps, over towards me.

This could be fun or, not.  I try to stay flexible. Ready to jump, defend myself or, run.

He was a peaceable individual and introduced himself. "I'm Alfredo from El Salvador." 

We became friends, swapped emails and, tried to connect on Facebook.

He's visiting his daughter and, goes home this weekend. We must do some beers.

He ran back to his room, while I was finishing (what I could of) my meal.

And, he came back with his cell-phone, to make sure, we got connected.

The restaurant gal, packed half my lunch in a takeout box for me.

Then, Alfredo and I walked across the street and, I showed him, where my office is at.

He was heading out, to buy an Okinawan Kariushi shirt, down in Naha.

That's crazy. I gave him directions, to someplace a lot closer and, prices would be lower.

He thanked me and, promised before he leaves this island, we're doing some drinking together.

Maps Got Done Quickly

Back at work, I tweaked the images and uploaded them to Google Maps.

A quick review was done. I had to input the address, hours and phone number.

Normally, it takes a few days, to get a new location loaded and approved, but not this time.

Chicken Paradise is on the map and, I showed the restaurant owner.

Looking closer at the image of the menus, posted outdoors, gave me an idea.

All that chicken (above) cost me only 700 yen.

For just 100 yen more, I could have gotten a Psycho Roast Steak. I will, next time !

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Travel Photo: Deep in Prayer

A spiritual person praying in front of fire in a cave, Kouri-jima, Okinawa

Spiritual Woman of Kouri Island

This photo and probably 200 more, are dated March 19, 2017.

A fairly busy time of year for me, I just developed this today because, a friend reminded me.

Mick McClary, a guy from Montana was visiting Okinawa on one of his annual excursions.

And, about two days before his departure, we went down in this cave for some rituals.

Several times, I've attended this event and, thought Mick might enjoy seeing it.

Little did I know, he'd take a tumble and, get bloodied, going down the mountain trail.

Knowing how slippery and dangerous it can be, I got a head start and, went slow descending.

When Mick showed up, he looked like he got caught in a meat grinder. 

He says a tree snapped and he fell, coming down the trail. He was sort of escorting the women.

The woman in the photo, I've known for a few years, now. She wouldn't push him.

But, the rest of the gals, I'm not so sure about. OK, let's just blame it on a tree.

The rituals take place in Sururu Gama, a cave at sea level on Kouri-jima, Okinawa.

Mick, took plenty of video footage and, at Tripod, they're available for viewing.

If, you have the time and patience, you can see everything except, the part where he fell.

Old geezer me, even showed-up in a few scenes and, I looked really old.

So, I have to get back to weight lifting and kickboxing, to get ready for the next cave tour.

Next time, I want to hop down that trail like a youngster. I'd better get in shape.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Crazy Stuff Happens on Thursday Night in Kin Town

Ryukyu Mike and granddaughter in front of wall art

 Sweetheart of a Girl

It had been a terrible week, actually horrible, two weeks if, you really want to know.

It all started when a few banks notified me, my credit card was being used.

Suspicious activity, 5 dollars, 15 dollars then, 60 dollar purchases were being made.

One of my email accounts, got overtaken by someone else, too.

The crooks are smart. They just use a little bit of money at a time. Then, wait.

If, they're not stopped soon, then mega-bucks start getting stolen.

Fortunately, I got to the bank and, got everything stopped.

Had them chop-up my credit card and order me a new one. That, was the easy part.

Recovering a compromised email account, takes a bit more sweat out of you.

Once, I finally got access to my 30 year old, email account, I felt relieved.

The internet, is still a scary place, to me. If, WWIII breaks out tomorrow, I won't care.

Nobody will have access to the internet, credit cards or, emails.

Fine with me. I almost got used to it. I'm ready to go back to living in caves.

It Was Time to Celebrate

With my stolen identity recovered, it was time to celebrate and get UN-Stressed.

A message was sent to the wife, "All is well, I have to go do beers tonight."

The wife is very understanding. She didn't reply so, that meant, OK.

In a favorite, air-conditioned establishment, I slammed several ice-cold beers.

After 5 or 6 Orion Draft Beers in frozen mugs, I got thinking. "Time to move along."

It was around 9 PM and, I planned on grabbing some smokes, on the way home.

Thanking the barmaid, I said, "Goodnight" and started to walk towards the door.

She said something but, I couldn't hear so, she hollered a bit louder.

"Mike, there's Eisa drums playing down the street." 

Sure enough, as I walked out the door, I could hear them.

They were dancing and beating drums, right in front of the store I was headed to.

Sonavagun if, my granddaughter, Marin, wasn't out there, dancing in a pink kimono.

There is never a camera with me, when I'm on a drinking excursion.

But, I had the iPhone and, one of my friends happened to be there, to take this photo.

Pretty good composition and, it made me happy, to get this photo with my eldest grandchild.

Only, I wish someone, would have told me to fix that button, under my belly and belt.

The background images are painted on the front of an Irish Pub named, Bingo's.

So, after saying "Goodnight" to Marin, you can probably guess, where I went next.

The plan then, was to buy the photographer a beer and, have one myself.

After a few more beers, I discovered, why Eisa was being performed, that night.

A bar across the street was celebrating their one year anniversary.

They had hired the Eisa Dancers and drums, as part of their celebration.

The Irishman in the pub, told me I should visit the bar across the street, on my way home.

It's on top of a steep flight of stairs and, I was kind of wobbly but, made it.

Someday, I'll have to go back, with a real camera and, get the place on Google Maps.

Some of my friends were drinking in there and, I sat with them for awhile.

Then, asked the staff if, photography was permitted. Good to go.

None of those iPhone photos will be posted today. There are some unique ones, though.

Once, I wandered into a side room, I hadn't known existed. Pretty big establishment.

A bunch of young men and ladies, were in there, having a grand old time.

One of the gals asked me, "You're Marin's grandpa, aren't you?"

When, I told her she was correct, they all got excited and, wanted to pet my fur.

So, after awhile, I excused myself, finished my last beer and, was home shortly after midnight.

Last night, the wife was surprised. It was Friday and, I didn't feel like going out, drinking.

Too much partying, isn't a good idea so, I took a little break and, went to bed early.

Saturday nights, things can become a little lively, too.

Hey Marin, "Remember how grandpa used to drive you all over Okinawa and babysit you?"

You're old enough now, to return the favor !

Friday, August 18, 2017

Potty Training Tourists

Illustration showing how to use the toilet in Japan

How to Use the Toilet

Travel and tourism is a huge industry in this part of the world and, that's a good thing.

People from different countries, don't always have the same bathroom etiquette.

So, signs like this are posted in airports, hotels and convenience stores.

It's kind of nice, the way they make these instructional signs, in Japan.

Just in case, you aren't fluent at reading, they make simple symbols for you to look at.

1. Please sit on the toilet seat, with your face pointing away from the lid.

A. Don't sit facing the lid.

B. Don't squat on top of the toilet seat, facing the lid.

C. Don't squat on the seat, facing away from the lid.

2. Flush used toilet paper in the toilet bowl.

A.  Don't throw used toilet paper in the trash can.

B.  Don't throw used toilet paper on the floor, either. ( I made that one up).

For Those Kids Who Can't Read

1.  Pull your  pants up, zipper or button them and, make sure nothing's hanging out.

2.  Then, go wash your hands with soap and water.

Those are some things, I wish they had symbols for, on these informative signs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Okinawan Folktale: Origins of Okinawa Shisa

Two Original Stone Shisa Statues

There are hundreds of thousands of them if, you counted every Shisa on the island.

The Shisa (Lion-dog) seen today are kiln fired clay or, plastic figures used as good luck charms.

Throughout Okinawa they, guard gates, homes, bridges and offices, to ward off evil spirits.

Often, they are sold to tourists on key chains and as jewelry. Often, they are brightly colored.

To discover the origins of the Ryukyu Shisa, you'd have to go back a few centuries in history.

On the main island of Okinawa a few dozen of the original Shisa may be seen.

Remnants of the Ryukyu Dynasty, from the days Okinawa was an independent kingdom.

A traveler would have to leave pavement in order to find them. Here are two, unique ones.

Tomori Lion, Yaese, Okinawa, stone statue

Tomori Lion

Sculptured at some point during the 17th Century this statue sits on a hill in Yaese Town.

The district of Tomori, experienced fires burning homes and crops, frequently.

A master of the Chinese art, feng shui was consulted and a tour of the village was conducted.

What advice, to give the villagers, had to be determined by surveying the terrain.

Feng shui practitioners, are sort of spiritual persons, with divine connections.

Normal humans, can't sense, which direction evil spirits may be coming from.

When the village elders and the guru reached this knoll, something happened.

They were all sweating from, climbing the hill under a blazing hot sun.

But, the master felt a chill, stopped perspiring and, got goose bumps on his body.

Facing Mt. Yaese, the feng shui expert declared, “That's where the fires are coming from.”

Showing them an amulet, resembling a lion, he gave them instructions.

A life sized stone sculpture, would have to be placed on this hill, facing the mountain.

The evil fires, coming towards the hamlet, would cease and, the villagers would be safe.

In the exact spot and facing in the correct direction, the Tomori stone Shisa was placed.

It was the first Shisa, ever made on Okinawa island and, many more would follow.

Kogusuku Nise Ishi, Nise Stone of Kogusuku, stone statue

Kogusuku Nise Ishi

The fires in Tomori Village, never happened again. Stone Shisa became legendary.

They were used to ward off fires, plague, misfortunes and all sorts of evil, throughout Yaese.

Before long Shisa statues were being placed in villages throughout the Ryukyu Islands.

There are at least a dozen of these antique stones, to be seen in Yaese Town, alone.

Most of them are off the beaten path, hidden from the average traveler's eyesight.

Some are in habu (poisonous snake) and mosquito territory and, located where there are no

 parking areas for vehicles.

Many local residents, don't know these treasures exist, in the neighborhoods where they live.

The Nise Stone of Kogusuku is on the travel map and, has some unusual folklore.

It has been designated a Tangible Cultural Property of Yaese Town. It is different.

Shisa or, Chinese guardian lion dogs, usually protect hamlets from fires or evil spirits.

This Shisa, was placed in its location, to insure good fortune for young men.

After being erected at this location, it brought prosperity to the young men of the village.

To this date, on certain occasions, village officials and youth, come to worship here.

It is also said if, a woman desires a boy child, she should touch this stone Shisa.

NOTE: To find other original Shisa a local guide may be required.